Bundle Up

Here are a couple of things I did wrong yesterday.

First, and foremost, I believed the weather forecasters. Despite the fact that we now live in the Valley of the Sun almost five months out of the year, I still fall for it every time when the weather predictors tell me that tomorrow is going to be a chilly one. They stand there in what I can only presume is a cocktail dress and talk about the cold front that is coming through, resulting in high winds and cool temperatures. In Colorado, that means bring in small dogs from outdoors lest they blow away, and dig out your long underwear. In AZ, it apparently means the very topmost fronds of the palm trees might sway a bit and don’t even THINK about wearing a halter top.

Unfortunately, I wore a sweater and jeans. To take it up a notch, I added a scarf. By time we drove across town and reached IKEA – our primary stop yesterday during our daily adventure – I was clawing frantically at the scarf around my neck, desperately trying to remove it before I fainted from the heat.

The second thing I did wrong was, well, go to IKEA…..

I’m not an IKEA-hater. I like IKEA. When we first bought our house here in AZ, we bought a lot of things at IKEA. The stuff’s very inexpensive. It’s just that shopping at IKEA can get very complicated. For one thing, the days when we thought it was fun to follow the arrows throughout the store and browse are long gone. The stores are huge and it takes 45 minutes to make it the distance. So now Bill figures out what he wants and where it’s located before we even enter the store. We then swim upstream, dodging people trying to steer those carts with the four wheels that all revolve 180 degrees, the result being that people are steering their carts down the aisles sideways.

And then, once we located the item we wished to buy (in yesterday’s case, an adjustable desk for Bill), you have to make your way through the sea of revolving shopping carts until you reach the warehouse. The merchandise at IKEA all comes in seven or eight boxes, and has a Swedish name. The name of the desk is…..

…..which I’m pretty sure in Swedish means You Are Stupid to Think You Can Put This Together Using That Useless L-Shaped Wrench Included in This Package. Only a handful of people in Minnesota know the truth: that IKEA is snickering behind our backs.

You find your item, and then lift it onto a flatbed cart that also has those same wheels. This wouldn’t be so bad except that you can’t hold the cart still so as to set your item on it. The desk was heavy enough to require both of us to lift it, thereby leaving the cart free to take off like a bird. It took a few tries, but we were ultimately successful. By this time, I was sweating  worse than the Swedish chef in a hot kitchen.

This is what it looks like to put together a piece of IKEA furniture…..

In the midst of our day, a couple of good things happened. As we perused the desks, trying to figure out which one would work best and what aisle and bin we should look for down in the warehouse, I heard a pleasant voice say, “Hi there, strangers.”

My niece Heather and her youngest, Faith, were also shopping for desks at IKEA. It’s a small world after all. Let me tell you that it appeared that Heather had full control of her cart, so maybe, just possibly, it’s me. Anyway, 4-year-old Faith took one look at me and asked, “Aunt Kris, why are you wearing that scarf?” It’s a shame when a mere tyke is smarter than you…..

Our adventure also included a lunch stop at Rudy’s BBQ, located not far from IKEA……

Any time I’m eating barbecue for lunch, the day can’t have gone that far wrong.

By the way, here is the final product, and Bill didn’t use the ridiculous L-shaped wrench a single time….

Shopping Daze

There’s some point in a visit to any IKEA store when I transition from being a wide-eyed consumer equally transfixed and excited by all of the choices in home goods being offered to me to feeling as though I’m part of the Bataan Death March. The point at which this transition takes place varies, but I think it’s generally somewhere around the bedroom linens and furniture, when it becomes abundantly clear that everything looks exactly the same.

I’m not the only one either. If you look around, you will notice that there are people of all ages whose eyes resemble those of the zombies in Night of the Living Dead. They are pushing those crazy shopping carts that have minds of their own into displays of plastic glassware and, even more dangerously, into the backs of people’s ankles. They don’t apologize; no one expects them to. We’re all zombies by then.

Bill and I got out of our ‘hood yesterday, first making our way south to the Chandler Fashion Center, or whatever the hell they call malls these days. I needed something from Nordstrom, and there are only two Nordstroms in the Phoenix metro area. I’d be damned if I would drive to the Scottsdale Mall – er, Fashion Square — since it is described as an upscale luxury fashion center, and I am neither luxurious nor fashionable. Chandler it was.

I was helped at the MAC counter at Nordstrom by an exceptionally nice young woman wearing neon blue lipstick that kept me so distracted that I had trouble concentrating on all of the things she was telling me to do if I wanted to look 10 years younger, and praying that wearing blue lipstick wasn’t one of them.

I rarely wear makeup, but I noticed recently that Jen looks years younger than me, and attributed it to the fact that she wears a foundation that covers any signs of aging. Of course, it could be partially due to the fact that she actually is younger than me. Nevertheless, I felt it might be time to set aside some of my hillbilly ways and perhaps put on a bit of makeup now and again. Hence, the stop at Nordstrom. Next time you see me, you will be astounded at how young I look. Or, on the other hand, you might think I look like Charo.

But back to IKEA.

Since we were on that side of town, we decided to visit the IKEA store. I had recently seen a photo of some shelving in a bathroom that appealed to me. I mentioned it to Bill, forgetting that if you mention it to Bill McLain, it will come. With the persistence of a dog with a bone, he immediately began researching where to find the right kind of shelving and for the best price. The final answer? IKEA.

Very often we can circumvent the unavoidable somnolence of a trip through IKEA by going in the exit and making our way directly to the area where you pick up the various and sundry boxes that contain all of the 10,000 parts that make up your item. We have even been known to walk the opposite direction of the arrows – like a salmon swimming upstream – if we know the item at which we want to look is near the end of the maze.

This time, however, he wanted to show me the item and wasn’t entirely sure in what section it was located. Hence, Night of the Living Dead.

And, by the way, we were not the only ones to have the idea to visit IKEA yesterday. Don’t these people have jobs? Perhaps, like us, they just wanted to get out of the heat.

But within 45 minutes of arriving home, Bill had put the 10,000 pieces together and here is the result…..

This post is linked to Grammy’s Grid.


Thursday Thoughts

The Doctor’s Calling
This has been an unusual week for me and several others in my family. My sister Bec had surgery day before yesterday on her ear. She has had ongoing problems with her ear, including partial deafness and constant ringing. Most problematic for her, however, is that the ear was completely open from a previous surgery, preventing her from being able to go into the water. In fact, showering was complicated, involving cotton balls, many cotton balls. So while the surgery won’t restore her hearing or stop the ringing, the doctor hopes it will allow her to go into water without worry. Yay. She could  snorkel once again. Keep your fingers crossed and throw in a prayer or two.

The other health event that took place was that Monday, my 4-year-old grandson Micah (of dance fame in last Saturday’s Smile) put a rock into his mouth while playing outdoors at his preschool. He swallowed the rock, which proceeded to get stuck, at which time he was choking and couldn’t breathe. While coughing and struggling to breathe, he aspirated the rock into a lung. Quick-thinking school personnel immediately called 911 and he was taken to the hospital in Montpelier, VT, where they live. It was quickly determined that he would need surgery, so he eventually he was transported by ambulance to a hospital in Burlington, VT, where he underwent surgery involving a scope that went into his lung through his nose.

Micah in the ambulance to Burlington, VT.

Micah in the ambulance to Burlington, VT.

After numerous tries, the fabulous doctors were successful, and pulled a ONE CENTEMETER rock from his lung.


He spent the night in the hospital as he recovered from his general anesthesia, and happily went home the next day.

Getting a ride to the car from his Mom as he leaves the hospital on Tuesday.

Getting a ride to the car from his Mom as he leaves the hospital on Tuesday.

This was scary, of course, but the most sobering thing around all of this is that had this event taken place a hundred year ago, he probably wouldn’t have survived. God is good, and Micah told his mama firmly, “I won’t put any more rocks in my mouth.” Good idea Micah.

Helping Hands
I stumbled upon this photo this week. The photo was taken exactly four years ago and features Bill putting together something or other from IKEA, and he is being assisted by then-4-year-old Kaiya. The picture (which is pretty crappy in quality) is a poignant one for me for a couple of reasons. At the time the photo was taken, Bill’s Parkinson’s was serious enough that he had reached the point that he had effectively lost his small motor skills, preventing him from doing things like picking up tiny screws. Well, IKEA = tiny screws. I took the photo because he had asked Kaiya if she would help him, and she was handing him the small screws so that he could screw them in. I still cry when I think about it. I remember that it made me so happy that my husband didn’t let a little thing like Parkinson’s disease stop him from doing what he wanted to do. He would just ask for help, and frequently did. But it also reminded me that just a few months after that photo was taken, Bill was put on a new (for him) regime of medications that were truly miraculously life-transforming for him. Almost immediately, he regained his small motor skills, and many other of the effects of the disease were alleviated as well. He continues to do very well under this medication regime. I am so grateful to live at a time where there are medications available that have literally added productive years to his life. Just like with Micah, if he had been diagnosed 100 years ago, this would not have been the case. I am a very grateful woman this week.


Thursday Thoughts

Rigatony's Tempe

Rigatony’s Restaurant

You Can’t Have Too Much Eye-Talian
Despite how it may seem, Bill and I rarely get to the Phoenix suburb of Tempe. And yet, two days in a row we have been there. As you will recall, the other day we went on a field trip to Portillo’s and did a couple of other errands. Yesterday we went to IKEA, the only one of which is in Tempe. A Facebook friend, taking note of our trip to Portillo’s, suggested we go to a restaurant called Rigatony’s if we are ever in the area where it is located. (The restaurant’s name, by the way, is correctly spelled, a clever take on the proprietor’s name, I assume.) I looked up the restaurant and lo, and behold, it was only a couple of miles from IKEA. We went and were extremely delighted that it was a wonderful family-style Italian restaurant with delicious food. We were very surprised, however, to see that it was also very busy, even at 12:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday. A half hour wait. Well worth it. I love nice surprises, especially when they have to do with food.

The days tick by and it gets closer and closer to the time at which Jen moves to AZ for good (date yet unknown). Every so often, Bill and I begin to get nervous about where everything will go when the already-full house needs to absorb another person with her own stuff. While a trip to IKEA can’t entirely solve the problem, organization can’t hurt. So we bought a couple of different things yesterday that will hold some of our stuff, thereby making more room in the den and getting things off of our bedroom floor. I am the poster child for “if you have a free space, stuff will be put there,” but I am determined to go through our things, figure out what we really need, and then figure out where to store it. What we don’t really need will go to Goodwill. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, so they say. A walk through IKEA is good for my soul. It puts steps on my Fitbit, and I get a chance to see some of the Swedish names for their furniture. It makes me feel like the Swedish chef on The Muppets.

Make Yourself at Home
Speaking of Jen, she arrived yesterday afternoon to spend a few days with her grands – oh, and her daughter and siblings too. Bill loves to torture her by greeting her with something along the lines of “Hi Jen, welcome to Arizona. Make yourself at home.” Given that she pays half the mortgage, she is oh-so-amused by his greeting.

I recorded, and then sat and watched, the 140th Westminster Dog Show, something I

Court poses with our Miniature Schnauzer (who wouldn't win a dog show) Fritz.

Court poses with our Miniature Schnauzer (who wouldn’t win a dog show) Fritz.

try to do each year if I can remember that it falls sometime around Valentine’s Day. I like to see all of the different dogs, though I root for my favorite – the Miniature Schnauzer. This year the little bearded Schnauzer actually made it as one of the runners up in the Terrier group. Recording the program is a must so that you can fast forward through all of the interviews (with the owners, not the dogs) and all of the stories about how the dogs are groomed (why, oh why, do they make some of the dogs look so ridiculous).  One of my favorite moments was when one of the dogs – I don’t remember which, though it was a larger dog – decided fame wasn’t quite as important as those goodies that were in his handler’s pocket and turned naughty and just kept jumping and biting the pocket instead of walking quietly next to the handler. As you might expect, he was not selected as Best in Show. Instead, it was the German Shorthaired Pointer, who beat out others who were more favored.